The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Smith Maze MIPS Review

A simple, light, great helmet.
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $140 List | $97.73 at REI
Compare prices at 4 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, reasonably priced, well built
Cons:  Vents fixed open, tricky size adjustment
Manufacturer:   Smith
By Sam Piper ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Feb 10, 2017
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73
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 12
  • Comfort - 25% 8
  • Warmth - 25% 6
  • Ventilation - 20% 6
  • Weight - 10% 8
  • Goggle Compatibility - 10% 9
  • Style - 10% 9

Our Verdict

Another example of Smith's "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" attitude, the Maze has been a fixture in their line of already amazing helmets. Designed with simplicity and style in mind, Smith cut out the frills and gadgets and made a minimalist, and functional, injection molded helmet. It's lightweight and simple, making it a great option for the backcountry along with resort riding.

The Maze was a previous winner of our Top Pick for Backcountry Use. However, the Salomon MTN Lab stole that nomination away with more features that an avid backcountry rider will enjoy. It's also less weight than the Maze. This Smith helmet is more versatile than the Salomon model, though, which is more of a one-trick pony.

Color Updates

The Maze is now available in a few new color options. The rest of the helmet remains the same in terms of design and functionality.

October 2018


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Maze is a lightweight helmet and feels that way both in hand and on the head, but don't confuse that with a cheap feel. This helmet has clearly been constructed with a lot of thought. It's tight and clean, simple and efficient.

Performance Comparison


Simple and elegant. The Maze is a long-time favorite.
Simple and elegant. The Maze is a long-time favorite.

Fit and Comfort


The Maze fit most of our testers really well, with and without a beanie. As with other Smith helmets, it leans towards fitting rounder heads but can be adjusted to accommodate different shapes. One of the ways Smith achieved its simplicity was by dropping the BOA adjustment system. The Maze does have different foam pads that can be removed or at least rearranged in order to achieve a nice fit, but keep that in mind for sizing if you're planning on wearing a beanie underneath.

Although the Maze fit our lead tester well, it got docked a few points in our Comfort category for not having an adjustment system. If having an easy adjustment system is important to you, the Smith Vantage or Smith Variance might be better options, as well as the Salomon model.

A look at the inside of the Maze  simple but effective.
A look at the inside of the Maze, simple but effective.

Warmth


Helmets with vents that are fixed open can only be so warm; that's the nature of having cold air flowing through a helmet. Period, end of story. If you run hot or can fit a beanie under your helmet, then you probably won't have any issue at all. With that in mind, our testers had a fine time staying warm by adding a thin beanie or buff under the Maze on cold days. That said, without a way to adjust the helmet size easily on the go, adding and subtracting a beanie throughout the day will affect the fit.

Ventilation


With the above critique in mind, remember that the Maze only has nine vents compared to the Smith Vantage's whopping 21. And, helmets with adjustable ventilation, such as the Smith Variance or Smith Vantage, are superior to those without. That said, the Maze has removable ear pieces, which can let in a lot of air flow on a warm day. Although this isn't a ventilation-specific helmet, it does a great job pulling air through the helmet when you're moving, and the only time our testers had an issue with overheating was while side-stepping or hiking to distant in-bounds terrain.

One of our testers takes his Maze helmet on a test flight into Squaw Valley's Palisades with Lake Tahoe in the background.
One of our testers takes his Maze helmet on a test flight into Squaw Valley's Palisades with Lake Tahoe in the background.

Weight and Bulk


The Maze is one of the lightest contenders in our review. It fit all of our testers well and has a modern look that is pleasing to the eye and fit under our testers' hoods on stormy days. Some will make the argument that a lighter helmet is a better option, because less weight on your head decreases the chances of whiplash injuries during a crash. This is, however, hard to prove definitively in any tests. If weight is your thing, then this is your helmet; if it's not, check out the POC Fornix or Salomon MTN Lab.

Goggle Compatibility


As with other Smith helmets, the Maze performed the best with Smith goggles, with only the most subtle gap noticed during cold days and high speeds. The removable goggle lock held our goggles in place, with no fear of them falling off. Some will prefer to wear their goggles on the inside of this helmet, a new-school look, and will choose to remove the goggle clip in the back for an even cleaner look.

Style


Our testers liked the look of the Maze, no frills with a clean shape. It feels modern and new age but doesn't present as bulky like some of the other more skate-inspired helmets. The Maze treads the gray area between old and new school, and we see people wearing their goggles on the inside and outside of the helmet. The color choices of the Maze add a lot of style as well. The Giro Ledge offers a similar style helmet with a few subtle differences.

The Smith Maze worn with a beanie and the Smith Vantage worn with nothing underneath on a stormy day at Squaw Valley USA.
The Smith Maze worn with a beanie and the Smith Vantage worn with nothing underneath on a stormy day at Squaw Valley USA.

Best Applications


Whether skiing inbounds or hiking in the backcountry, the Maze will perform beautifully. A favorite for many in the industry, this helmet suits the weekend warrior or the 100-day-a-year die hard.

Value


With a much lower price than the Variance or Vantage, the Maze (below, left) is a great choice that won't break the bank for a solid, well-built helmet from a name you know and trust. It is slightly more put together and advanced than our Best Buy winner, the Giro Ledge (below, right).


Conclusion


Smith knocked out a great product with the Maze. They shot for a simple, minimalist helmet and they achieved that in volumes. Comfortable, stylish, and warm enough, it vents well and feels light on your head. On top of all that, it's more affordable than much of its competition.


Sam Piper